RECASTING is never fun – whether you’re the original actor or replacement. On The Simpsons, the same main cast remain more than 30 seasons later.

While Springfield is a large town, a core group of six actors voice many of its residents between them.

As for The Simpsons itself, the show recently aired its 34th season – with no sign of slowing down.

Animation can be tricky to recast – a new actor has to convey the same voice and personality, rather than just physical acting styles.

Therefore, fans of The Simpsons may be surprised that two long-running characters originally had a different actor: Mr Burns and Moe Szyslak.

Moe The Simpsons

Who are the characters?

Moe, the owner of Springfield watering hole Moe’s Tavern, is a major recurring character on The Simpsons.

He debuted in the first half-hour episode of The Simpsons, after its Tracey Ullman Show shorts.

Moe’s main character traits include his unattractiveness, misfortune with women and generally unluckiness.

Additionally, Moe usually is a friend to Homer – albeit one with a romantic interest in his wife.

Hank Azaria is the long-time voice actor for Moe. Azaria voices other characters including Chief Wiggum, Professor Frink, Comic Book Guy and Superintendent Chalmers, to name a few.

Meanwhile, Charles Montgomery Burns owns Springfield’s Nuclear Power Plant and is therefore Homer’s boss.

He is devious, powerful, greedy and manipulative – often serving as an antagonist in various episodes.

Mr. Burns also debuted in the first episode, with Harry Shearer voicing him for most of that time.

Shearer’s other characters include Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Lenny Leonard and Kent Brockman, to name a few.

Who was the original voice?


The first actor to play Moe and Mr. Burns was Christopher Collins.

Before Azaria and Shearer stepped in the roles, Collins was initially cast as both characters.

Born in New Jersey in 1949, Collins was an actor and stand-up comedian.

Also known as Chris Latta, he notably worked on G.I. Joe: A Real Action Hero. Collins voiced the villain Cobra Commander, among other characters.

The cartoon ran in syndication from 1983 to 1986, producing 95 episodes.

Why was he replaced?

Collins joined The Simpsons when the show began in 1989. However, like other early recurring guest stars, he left quite early on.

In fact, Collins’ recordings as Moe never made it air as he was already replaced by Hank Azaria.

Harry Shearer – Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

As for Mr. Burns, Collins voiced the role in four season one episodes before Shearer took on the role.

So, the question remains. What exactly led to Collins’ departure?

In a 2018 interview with GQ, Azaria said:

“I didn’t know until many years later that there was an original Moe the Bartender voice that I replaced. I didn’t know that.

“I was like, ‘Did you not like what he did?’ Matt Groening was like, ‘Oh no, he was great.’

“So I’m like, ‘Why did you recast him?’ “

Hank Azaria, GQ (2018)

As Azaria explains later in the interview, Collins had ultimately proved difficult to work with.

Azaria continued:

“Think about how awful – that guy could’ve been on The Simpsons his whole life.

“Lesson to you kids – always be nice.”

Hank Azaria, GQ (2018)

Azaria was a recurring cast member in season one, with Moe being the first character he voiced on the show.

Later, Azaria became a series regular for season two and beyond.

Ultimately, Collins passed away in 1994 – four years after leaving The Simpsons. He was 44 years old.

His death was due to complications of a cerebral hemorrhage.

While Collins was on The Simpsons for a short time, the characters he originated continue to have a presence decades later.

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